Dieterich Buxtehude's organ works are his most significant contribution to the history of music. They consist of a comprehensive corpus of just 90 compositions, of which more than half are chorale settings. However, these are mostly shorter than the preludes, toccatas and other freely conceived pieces, so these last represent a more substantial share of his entire output.
For the sake of both vocal and family well-being, Anne Sofie von Otter has always followed the wise course of self-rationing in opera. This disc, an entirely personal selection of arias from the Viennese Classical period, means all the more to her including, as it does, arias sung by dramatic and passionate women 'most of whom', she admits in the accompanying notes, 'I have never performed on stage and, alas, probably never will'.
This "Paris" is special because it shows Eccles trying to shunt musical theater in an all-English direction, and move it out of the shadow of the dominant Italian and French traditions. As Lindsay Kemp points out in verbose but thorough liner notes, the word settings, or underlay is for English speech rhythms and the score focuses more on line and melody that decoration and ornamentation. This is a Maske, so it feels much more like music from a play than an opera. The score is a theatrical and musical treat, lived up to in this vibrant and energized performance, conducted by Christian Curnyn and sung by the Early Opera Company. The soloists are well cast, lucid and each of them really grasp the difference between this and opera. The Three Mad Songs that end the program are just that, set pieces from various English plays where the heroin loses it, usually because a man has done her wrong. One song each is given to our Paris soloists, Lucy Crowe, Claire Booth and Susan Bickley, so Curnyn presents the listener with a latter day "Judgment," with us playing Paris. I'm awarding the apple to Ms. Crowe for her rendition of "Restless in Thought…" from "She Ventures, and He Wins.– Hugo Munday
Plácido Domingo as Vasco da Gama and Shirley Verrett as the African queen, whom he has enslaved, star in Giacomo Meyerbeer‘s spectacular grand opera L’Africaine, in a colourfully exotic production by Lotfi Mansouri, under the sensitive musical direction of Maurizio Arena. The visual splendour of Wolfram Skalicki’s designs matches the vocal distinction of the cast in this seldom performed masterpiece. Director Brian Large captured this magical performance from the San Francisco Opera House for video in 1988.
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, a very long name for a short living British band formed in 1967 during the peak of British Psychedelia, but despite their formation era, they were one of the most advanced bands from their era, blended with great respect R&B, Jazz Psychedelia a la early Pink Floyd and a touch of The Nice style, hard to say if they were inspired in Keith Emerson's sound because they are coetaneous, but you can find many similarities. The first option was The Velvet Opera, but Dave Terry appeared in a session wearing a long black cape and a preachers hat, the band immediately identified him with Sinclair Lewis fictional character Elmer Gantry and in that moment his name changed and the band was baptized as Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera…